November 7th, 2008
03:07 PM ET
14 years ago

Young conservatives: RNC must adopt Obama's online model

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="A group of young conservative online activists have published a plan to revive the GOP."]
(CNN) –- Rather than pointing fingers and assigning blame for Sen. John McCain’s recent defeat at the hands of Sen. Barack Obama, a group of young conservative activists have issued a manifesto of sorts that challenges the next head of the Republican National Committee to embrace the Internet as a method of political organizing in the same way that the Obama campaign effectively did for the last 20 months.

The coalition of eight conservatives, many of whom are known for their activity in the online space, launched the Web site on Thursday. The site lays out a set of principles the group believes the RNC must adopt in order to bring the GOP into the future and succeed in upcoming state and federal races.

“The time is now to set in motion the changes needed to rebuild our party from the grassroots up, modernize the way we run campaigns, and attract different, energetic, and younger candidates at all levels,” the site says. “We must be conservative in philosophy - but bold in our approach. We don't need a slight tweak here or there. We need transformation. We can't keep fighting a 21st century war with 20th century weapons.”

The group calls using and mastering the Internet the “#1 priority in the next four years.” The power of traditional connections is being replaced by the power of mass connectedness,” the site says. “Politics is taking place on a grander stage than ever before, with millions, and not just tens of thousands - participating directly in the process.”

To catch up with the Democrats online, the coalition urges the RNC to recruit 5 million new Republican online activists, hold campaigns and local parties accountable for developing their own e-mail lists and conducting their own fundraising in lieu of relying on the RNC, and adopt a more open technology ecosystem that encourages innovative approaches online and then supports the best of those.

The group is also urging the RNC to fundamentally rethink the way that the Republican Party organizes and connects with its base of grassroots supporters. “This isn't just about the Internet - it's about recognizing that in a people-powered era, with the power of technology-empowered grassroots movements on the rise– everything about the way we mobilize voters changes,” the group says.

To develop a more-“people-powered” party in the future, the group of activists is encouraging the RNC to reform how its organizes Republicans at the most local, volunteer-to-volunteer level, to move away from large-dollar donors that have historically financed the party and toward fundraising on the Internet from a base of small-dollar donors in the model of the Obama campaign, recruiting 25,000 new campaign workers, and making use of online technologies pervasive throughout the RNC’s operations.

Finally, in another approach strikingly reminiscent of the Obama campaign and the Democrat National Committee under Chairman Howard Dean, the group is encouraging the RNC to field candidates in all House races by 2012 rather than just concentrating on those districts that already appear to be leaning Republican, encouraging the GOP’s state parties to contest all statewide races, and setting a “40 under 40” goal of having 40 percent of congressional candidates in who are challengers or running for open seats be individuals under the age of 40.

The coalition’s ambitious platform is somewhat at odds with how the GOP has traditionally operated – a fact the group acknowledges:

“We must trust the online grassroots who want to take action on our behalf, and who need a decentralized, peer-to-peer volunteer community supported by our campaigns to really be successful. That will require giving up some control - more control than our traditional institutions are used to giving up - in exchange for an exponentially larger and more effective volunteer/donor/activist ecosystem.

Obama tapped the Internet successfully because he made it about "you" and "us" not "me" and "I." You were invited in. You were a key part of his campaign/movement. Your help was truly appreciated. Republican candidates need to grow more comfortable talking in these terms and focus less on being inaccessible objects of hero worship (the "me/I" strategy).”

The coalition is composed of: Erick Erickson,’s managing editor; David Kralik; Mindy Finn, the former head of online strategy for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign; Patrick Ruffini, a former eCampaign director for the RNC; Mark Harris; Phil Musser, a former executive director of the Republican Governors Association; Michael Turk, another former RNC eCampaign director; and Justin Sayfie, former spokesman for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • RNC
soundoff (128 Responses)
  1. c from stl

    hmmmm, and community organizing was not considered a respectable background according to the republican national convention. Those outlooks are coming to bite them in the rear. It's time to realize that America has moved FORWARD. Please understand that.... I don't consider myself a democrat but I am and always was a strong supporter of Obama. However I strongly feel that people should be entitled to their own outlooks even if they are conservative. But the republican party needs to wake up and get out of the dark ages. It's no longer working to divide people and having that 'you aren't like us' attitude. The republican party needs to find ways to reach out to all races, backgrounds, and social statuses. That is honeslty the only way they will have a strong future.....

    November 7, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  2. georgia girl

    the republicans came across as being racist, until they show that we are all created equal they will never win another election, they will never have my vote ever again.

    November 7, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  3. N. S. Huntsville, Al

    To develop a more-“people-powered” party in the future, the group of activists is encouraging the RNC to reform how its organizes Republicans at the most local, volunteer-to-volunteer level, to move away from large-dollar donors that have historically financed the party and toward fundraising on the Internet from a base of small-dollar donors in the model of the Obama campaign, recruiting 25,000 new campaign workers, and making use of online technologies pervasive throughout the RNC’s operations.

    This is why I hate the Republican party they talk about the way Obama raised money on the internet from small donors but now they act like there coming up with a new concept. I hate them, I really really do. They won't give Obama any credit but they will come out and take all his ideas but the bottom line is there dirty, prejudice and I still will never ever vote for a Republican.

    November 7, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  4. DC-African in Colorado Springs, Colorado

    Adopting Obama online model will not help the RNC to rule unless the RNC has good messages for all not just for some.

    November 7, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    The RNC will never be the same.

    November 7, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  6. expat

    How will the internet help them? Half of the Republicans who post responses here can't write; the other half can't read.

    November 7, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  7. indianapolis

    Uh...when did the internet come out??? Way to be ahead of the curve, G.O.P.

    November 7, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  8. docbenway

    I agree with Colleen.
    Make the Republican party the party of state and individual rights, small government, and low taxes. Give the religious zealots their own party. Eliminate the term "Conservative" entirely and attract people who are more interested in individualism and freedom than upholding theology and morality. A lot of republicans in the true sense (state and individual rights), voted for Obama simply because of the religious, morally overbearing attitude of the current republican party.

    November 7, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  9. RC

    To the GOP,take your idiotic blind folds off,this is 2008,21st century technology age,and now you're looking into the internet to reach your party. WOW!!!!! TALK ABOUT BEING OUT OF TOUCH.

    November 7, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  10. Nik

    This is the smartest thing that I've heard from the GOP this entire year. They really need to spend time finding out what the hell they represent. 20th century conservative social and economic wars are sooooo obsolete. Ask John McCain...everytime he mentioned Tip O'Neil and the great Ronald Reagan during the debates, you could hear the groans and moans from sea to shining sea.

    November 7, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  11. gt

    The youth of these conservatives exposes their naivete. The internet is just a tool, and becoming more competent at using it is not going to change the fortunes of the party.

    They've got to come to grips with this: Barack Obama was by far the superior competitor in the presidential contest. He is the best politician on the scene now. If the Republicans come up with a stronger candidate than Obama, mastering the internet will be side issue.

    November 7, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  12. Jessie Jay

    Am I hearing right....are they actually admitting to the genious of President elect Obama??? Can't wait to hear how Rush Limbaugh will spin this! All the computer knowledge in the world won't help the GOP unless they distance themselves from the hate mongers in their party.

    November 7, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  13. georgia for Obama

    He has a lot for most of us to emulate.
    This can be so good folks if we all commit to it as our president elect has. Very exciting when you think of the possibilities !

    November 7, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |


    November 7, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  15. Ex-Republican for Obama

    It won't work if you maintain your conservative views. So long as you preach about how everyone is your enemy, then we will remain your enemy. The time for unity is at hand. The time for childish "he's a terrorist' fear tactics is over. Speculation, conspiracy theories and deception are the tools of a weak and incompetent mind.

    I suggest you start with adopting Obama's integrity before you adopt his online savvy. Your party has acted like a cult these past 8 years, and it's very frightening! I left the GOP for that very reason.

    Truth is, the GOP needs to drop the conservatives all together, they are the cancer that is in that party. They are an anti patriotic hate filled base of truely dispicable people.

    November 7, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  16. jeff

    I am an independent, who proudly cast his vote for Barack Obama. However, I acknowledge the need for two parties, and right now there is only one and a half. If the Republicans want to become legitimate again, they need to cut out the fear-mongering, the negativity, the deceit, and yes, get with the times. The internet hurt the Republicans in more ways than one. The other less often discussed factor is how much harder it is now to deceive the voters who are able to check the facts for themselves. They overplayed the Ayers card, and it didn't work, because we can go right to our computers and find out the truth. Then they just look silly. It will be interesting to see just how the Republicans go about remodeling the party, but whatever they do, they had better start offering real solutions instead of just rhetoric, or else some other party will replace them.

    November 7, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  17. DB25

    As long as this "rebuilding" of the RNC involves kicking out Sarah Palin forever....then I'm all for it.

    November 7, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  18. indianapolis

    All I can do is laugh at the uber right wing comments. I think all the reasonable folks out here should just cease with the comments on this one and let the radical right have at it with each's almost as entertaining as SnL was.

    November 7, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |

    Monica, loved your comment! I couldn't agree more with it!! I would hope in rebuilding the party you try and include the "face of America" because watching McCain concession speech it look like a Klan rally without the sheets and watching Obama's rally showed what Ameria is White, Black, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Asian, Old, young, Gay, Straight, Disabled, etc. THAT'S AMERICA!!

    And until the republican party realize this your party will never be what it was, actually you shouldn't want it like it was.

    November 7, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  20. We'll never learn

    As long as the party considers the task of rebuilding as a 'war,' there's no hope for our country. Haven't we learned anything from this campaign?

    November 7, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  21. SA

    How about not being such a bunch of fcking dcks?

    November 7, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  22. Sarah, Kansas City, MO

    The goal of the corporate heads of the republican party is to keep their base ignorant and ill-educated so that they can take advantage of them at election time in order to pursue their goal of facism disquised as democracy. They will use religion, guns and abortion in their continued efforts.

    If they keep this up they will be a completely dead party within 10 years. The conservative heads of party met today and it sounds like they are going to double down on the right-wing stuff they have been stuffing down our throats. They do not get it.

    In order to get even half way back they are going to have to get rid of religous right and move back to the center. They have it in their heads that we are more to the right of center; we are not. Most of the country is either to slightly to left and right of center but most of us are there. Why they keep pandering to the far right is beyond me but as long as do I will never vote for a republican again.

    November 7, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  23. Obama-Junkie, IL

    If you can't beat 'em, JOIN 'EM!

    The Young Conservatives fail to realize that copying one of the Obama Campaign's tools is not going to turn the Republicans around.

    Strong and positive leadership is what the Repubs Obama!

    November 7, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  24. Matt

    Dear Andy:

    If (a) the Republicans pick Palin to be a party leader and/or (b) nominate her as the party's presidential candidate in 2012, then Obama could mail us all his new puppy's poops and he'd still be elected in 2012. Give it up with her. She may be beautiful, but a pretty moron is still a moron. The Reps need an entirely new face. One that didn't spew the dumb answers and virulent filth she spewed during her campaign.

    Thank you,

    The American Public

    November 7, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  25. Independent for USA only

    GOP needs to re-inspect their value system. They were misled by Bush and Oil-CEO group to focus on special interests of a small group. They need to look after the majority of Americans. Hope that they learn their lesson.

    November 7, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
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